Understanding Social Anxiety in Babies and Toddlers

Babies and toddlers respond differently in new surroundings. Some prefer to cling very close to mom and dad, whereas others are extremely friendly and greet friends and families with open arms. For the most part, parents want their young children to feel comfortable around family and friends. However, there are babies and toddlers who experience anxiety in social settings.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this type of behavior. For starters, children who are leery around adults are less likely to roam off with a stranger. Then again, if your child’s anxiety is extreme, they may be unwilling to stay with grandparents, aunts, babysitters, etc. Here are a few pointers that will help encourage children to be more comfortable around family and friends.

Do Not Isolate Children.

Naturally, parents want to protect their children, especially in the beginning. However, if you never allow your child out of your sight during the first year of birth, he or she made develop social anxiety. Keeping children near puts some parents at ease. Thus, mothers may prefer to stay home instead of relying on quality childcare. Furthermore, some moms and dads refuse to take vacations without the children, and do not allow overnight stays with the grandparents. Some parents even go as far as not letting other family members hold their baby or toddlers. However, a parent’s irrational behavior may be harming their children.

Parents who overprotect their children by keeping them in arm’s reach should not be surprised when children become timid around relatives. Some children have a natural outgoing personality, in which they can easily adapt to people. However, if your child leans more toward the shy side, keeping them too close will prevent them from learning how to be at ease with, and trust other adults.

Encourage Child to Let Others Get Near.

Often times, a parent will allow a relative or friend to hold their baby. However, if the baby or toddler lets out a little whimper, the parents are quick to come to their defense. Fight the urge. Instead, allow the other adult to continue holding your child. Of course, if the baby starts to pitch a huge fit, passing them back to the parents makes more sense. On the other hand, a little whining is fine. This teaches the child to accept others. To get children acquainted with being held by others, parents may ask a relative or friend to hold their baby while they run to the restroom and so forth.

Start Overnight Stays Early.

All parents need a break from time-to-time. This could be a night out without the kids or a weekend getaway. To do this, parents must be willing to leave their children in the care of relatives or trusted friends. The key involves starting early. A friend with twins started a monthly ritual of overnight trips away from home. On the third Saturday of every month from the time her twins were 3-months-old, this couple would stay in a hotel overnight. While away, her mother and sisters would take turns staying at their home with the children. Two years later, the twin girls have no problem staying with relatives overnight.

On the flip side, a couple did not leave their son’s side for three years. Till this day, this husband and wife are unable to leave their child with relatives. Ironically, both the twins and the little boy have similar personalities – shy, introverted, etc. Maybe it’s a coincidence. Nonetheless, it’s a convincing argument that children introduced to social interaction early experience fewer anxieties around people.

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